Paris, September 20, 2019
Last Saturday, September 14, His Eminence Archbishop John, formerly of Chariopoulis, now of Dubna, announced that he had requested and been approved to join the Moscow Patriarchate and that he had moved the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe into the Russian Church with him.
The decision of the Russian Holy Synod was worded more carefully however, recording that it had resolved, “To accept Archbishop John (Rennetto) into the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate with the title, ‘of Duba,’ and all of the clergy and congregations under his leadership who express such a will.”
On February 23, an Archdiocesan General Assembly voted 93% in favor of staying together as an Archdiocese, rather than dissolving into the Greek metropolises of the Patriarchate of Constantinople as its Holy Synod had ordained when it suddenly revoked the Archdiocese’s status as an Exarchate last November. On September 7, another General Assembly voted 58% in favor of joining the Moscow Patriarchate, though a 2/3 majority was needed to officially move as an entire body.
Constantinople also suddenly and unexpectedly canonically released Abp. John just a few days before the September 7 Assembly.
However, as Abp. John has explained, the statutes do not, in fact, allow for a General Assembly to change jurisdictions, and thus he decided as the archpastor of the Archdiocese to move it into the Moscow Patriarchate in order to preserve the unity that 93% had voted for.
And now, a Pastoral Assembly will be held next Saturday, September 28, in order to “complete and confirm together the canonical attachment of our Archdiocesan Association in Western Europe to the Moscow Patriarchate.”
It is widely expected that more than the 58% will follow Abp. John into the Moscow Patriarchate in order to continue their existence as an Archdiocese, although there are those who strongly oppose this move. According to sources in the Archdiocese, the parish in Rennes, France has decided to remain with the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and the parish in Bruxelles, Belgium will join the Romanian Patriarchate.
The Archdiocese had considered joining the Romanian Patriarchate, though Abp. John explained when he announced his decision to join Moscow that the Romanian Church had not offered to receive the Archdiocese as is (as has Moscow), but to receive parishes individually, and on a temporary basis, which would effectively mean the dissolution of the Archdiocese.
On September 14, a communiqué signed by seven members of the Archdiocesan council was published on the official Archdiocesan website which, among other things, requested that Patriarch Bartholomew appoint a locum tenens bishop for the Archdiocese, given that Abp. John had joined the Moscow Patriarchate.
However, the letter was published on the site without a blessing and was removed and replaced by a communiqué from Abp. John in which he noted that a Pastoral Assembly would soon be called.
The text of the invitation to the Assembly, which was mailed to all priests of the Archdiocese, was published on the “Exarchate UK Deanery” Facebook page.
The invitation reads:
Dear Deans, dear Rectors, dear Priests and dear Deacons,
Our canonical attachment to the Moscow Patriarchate, which has been accepted by the Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate, is a historic milestone in the history of our Archdiocese.
It puts to an end a journey that was difficult and painful. But I wished to lead it in conciliarity, faithful to our traditions and our canons. We met on December 15, 2018 and May 11, 2019 in our pastoral assembly. Furthermore, it is our Extraordinary General Assemblies of February 23 and September 7, which initiated and then acted the necessary break with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, since a large majority, opting for the project of attachment with the Moscow Patriarchate, made canonically impossible the ecclesial link to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
As your pastor, I drew the consequences and made the pastoral choice that appeared to me the only way to preserve the integrity of our Archdiocese, while ensuring a solid canonical foundation to it. This choice compels us now, because we must build the future of our Archdiocese.
Therefore, I turn to you, my dear Deans, Rectors, Priests and Deacons, because we have an important mission to accomplish. We must complete and confirm together the canonical attachment of our Archdiocesan Association in Western Europe to the Moscow Patriarchate, under the conditions that were negotiated with the Patriarchate and which are included in the project of attachment, which was proposed to you this summer.
I need each one of you, and I invite you to a Pastoral Assembly on Saturday, September 28, 2019 at St. Alexandre-Nevsky Cathedral (12, rue Daru, 75008 Paris). I would like to emphasize the need for your presence. This is a very important moment for the history of our Archdiocese.
Those who cannot come on September 28 are requested to send me a letter confirming their adherence to the canonical attachment of our Archdiocese to the Moscow Patriarchate according to the conditions of the Project of attachment.
† Archbishop Jean, head of the Archdiocesan
Association of Russian Orthodox Associations
in Western Europe